Civil Defence slams controversial 'triangle of life' earthquake survival technique
The so-called "triangle of life" theory about how to survive a big earthquake is "a load of potentially dangerous bull", Wellington's Civil Defence office says.
The Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) felt the need to, once again, publicly discredit the controversial theory, which has reared its head in the wake of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 14.
The triangle of life is based on the idea that falling building matter will create a space or void next to a solid object, so your best bet is to crouch next to something like a bed or a desk during an earthquake.
But in a Facebook post on Wednesday, WREMO said that advice has been thoroughly discredited internationally for years.
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"But unfortunately [it] keeps circulating during earthquake events ... it's a load of potentially dangerous bull."
In New Zealand, the advice was to "drop, cover, hold", which essentially means drop to the floor, find cover underneath something like a table, and hold on to it.
This was the right advice for New Zealand conditions where falling objects, not buildings, presented a real threat.
"We have robust building standards in New Zealand and do not expect buildings to collapse," WREMO said.
WREMO regional manager Bruce Pepperell said the controversial theory was "devised in a third-world environment" by a United States man Doug Copp.
"He came up with it as a result of his experiences in Turkey where building codes are vastly different. But it keeps coming up time and time again."
Copp's theory specifically advises against drop, cover, hold.
American Red Cross and the US Geological Survey, have both condemned Copp's theory, saying it is a "misguided idea" and inappropriate for countries with modern building construction standards where buildings are unlikely to collapse.
Research from the US, Taiwan, Japan and Christchurch – which all have modern, earthquake resistant building codes – recommends drop, cover, hold as the best method.
WHAT TO DO IN AN EARTHQUAKE
* If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then drop, cover and hold to protect yourself from falling objects. Stay indoors untill the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
* In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.
* If you are unable to drop, the best action is to stop moving and brace yourself against a wall or furniture.
* If you are outside, move away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then drop, cover and hold. Stay there until the shaking stops.
* If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.